Document storage can be a minefield for many company directors. A lack of space, time and money can leave management teams facing a headache about how and where to store important contracts and legal documents. But have you considered the risks involved by storing data on site? If documents were to be lost, stolen or there was to be a fire in the office, is this information adequately backed up? Is the data stored online with secure password protection in place?

Between April 2009 and March 2010, the fire service in the UK was called to approximately 842,000 fires, a high percentage of which were in office blocks and commercial buildings. If a fire was to occur in your office today, would your data be stored securely enough for you to resume normal business practices tomorrow? Ensuring your data is backed up, securely stored and protected is an essential consideration for every business, no matter which sector they operate in.

It is also important to consider the compliance issue regarding records management and data storage. The Information Commissioner’s Office now has the ability to impose fines of up to £500,000 for businesses who contravene Data Protection legislation. Under the 1988 act, businesses are required to keep data secure 'with appropriate technical and organisational measures taken to protect the information'. In practice, this means important data must be password protected, as well as taking physical precautions to keep it safe, which includes document storage habits.

Last year, the highest penalty ever to be levied on a single firm for data security failings was issued to Zurich and amounted to a £2.3m fine imposed by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Similarly, in 2007, Norwich Union Life was fined £1.26m by the FSA for failing to manage customer data adequately, resulting in financial crimes such as identity theft being committed against its customers. It is this legislation and risk that highlights to businesses across all sectors that document storage must be managed correctly.

There are plenty of tell-tale signs to warn you if you should be thinking about outsourcing your records management. Does your management team spend too much time looking for documents? Are your cupboards and cabinets overrun with files that have not been indexed? Do you keep records ‘just in case’ as you don’t know what else to do with them?

Many companies outsource the storage and management of this important information to ensure safe, efficient and reliable access can be maintained at all times.

Records management companies provide this solution, offering a safe house for original information which can be stored in secure vaults as well as providing media tape storage for electronic backups of data.

Rainham based Wincanton Records Management (WRM) — the fastest growing records management company in the UK — ensures reliable access to original documents is preserved at all times. WRM’s vaults benefit from advanced fire prevention technology, gas suppression and twenty-four hour round-the-clock monitoring to ensure the safety of your data. The company also offers the ability to access information quickly if necessary. Documents can be delivered twenty-four seven, 365 days a year, within as little as two hours if need dictates.

Outsourcing your records management requirements means vital information is safeguarded, overall efficiency and productivity improves and the creation, volume, redundancy and growth of records can be more effectively controlled.

David Woolley, Development Director of Wincanton Records Management comments: “We have experience of working with professionals across a diverse range of business sectors, including insurance, legal and the public sector with clients including Lark Insurance Group and City of London Police. It is essential that directors understand the huge risks that they are taking by storing sensitive information within their offices without sufficient backup. Outsourcing this to a records management company provides peace of mind that all legislation is adequately complied with.”

For more information on Wincanton Records Management, please visit www.wincantonrm.co.uk or call 0870 90 88 000.